Abdominal Tuberculosis: Clinical Presentation, Diagnosis, Outcome and Experience with 11 Cases


Tuberculosis is a common health problem. Abdominal tuberculosis constitutes about 2% of all tubercular cases and it’s the sixth most common extrapulmonary tuberculosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical presentation, diagnosis and effective treatment of abdominal tuberculosis. This is a retrospective study including 11 patients (4males and 7 females), with clinical features of abdominal tuberculosis. They were divided according to the clinical presentation into two groups. The first group included patients presented as acute abdominal pain mainly due to bowel obstruction or as peritonitis and were prepared and treated by explorative laparotomy and definitive diagnosis of abdominal TB was made by tissue biopsy. The second group included patients with chronic symptoms. The results observed in this study were that abdominal pain was the commonest symptom followed by abdominal distention, anorexia, weight loss and fever. Tender right lower abdominal quadrant was found in 7 patients(63.6%) and right iliac fossa mass was found in 3 patients (27.3%). Explorative laparotomy was needed for 5 patients (45.5%) who presented as acute abdomen. Strictures were found in 3 patients (27.3%), adhesion in one patient (9.1%) and peritonitis caused by perforation in the terminal ileum was recorded in one patient. Ascitic fluid analysis for AFB stain and culture confirm the diagnosis of abdominal tuberculosis in patients who presented with chronic symptoms of tuberculosis. All patients showed good response to ATT therapy. No mortality or recurrence was recorded during ATT treatment or during follow up period. We concluded that abdominal tuberculosis is difficult to diagnose due to vague and non specific symptoms and signs such as abdominal pain, anorexia, weight loss and fever. High index of suspicion and clinical awareness is needed for definite diagnosis which depends on PCR or histopathology or AFB stain.